Dec 31
This is it…Good-bye!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 12 31st, 2010| icon34 Comments »

Well, if the last day of the year is supposed to set up what the new year is going to be like, then 2011 is going to be productive, indeed.  But before I tell you how busy my day was, here is the last Year of Seasons picture of the year. 

This was taken at noon, and by the time I got home, there was no snow to be seen anywhere.  It got up into the mid-50’s here, today, and we had a bit of rain, but only enough to wash away any remaining snow in the shadowy areas.  The only snow still remaining anywhere is in those huge piles of the dirty stuff at the edges of parking lots.  It was nice having a white Christmas, but I am glad to see it gone for a while.  How long?  Who knows.  This is Indiana.  It could be 0 degrees and snowing to beat the band in the morning, but I think not.

Now, as for today, besides a quick trip to Indy to get some supplies at the art supply store and to run a few errands, I have been busy finishing the winding of all that Shetland yarn in preparation for weaving with it, cleaned about 1/4 of the kitchen – but it is thoroughly cleaned (even ran vinegar water through the coffee maker), wound two long skeins of dyed sock yarn into smaller skeins to make it easier to wash, washed it and rinsed it, washed part of a fleece, lettered a comic page, got the picture above processed, and now, with my shower behind me, I’m thinking of getting into bed and reading for a bit before going to sleep.

What?!?  Am I not going to stay up and see Baby New Year arrive?  Nope!  He’ll get here just fine without my assistance, and I have a lot more to get done tomorrow, so I need to have my beauty sleep.  For all of you who do stay up, raise a toast for me, and if you are at a party, please take care and get home safely.

See you next year!

Dec 30

Now that we’ve reviewed the past year, let’s look ahead to 2011.  More than anything, I like looking ahead to the future.  The past is past, something to be learned from, but the goal is to keep moving forward, keep learning, keep doing, and keep growing.  This next year is going to be both about growing and shrinking in the Story household and businesses.

Let’s start with growth.  Both Scott and I have been on a very strong spiritual growth path lately, and the more we study, learn and put into practice, the better our lives get.  We’ve learned to think of things in a positive manner, to eliminate any negativity in our lives, to be grateful for all the wonderful things God is giving to and showing us, to bless all those around us and to be humble and loving.  These bring peace, prosperity and more things to bless and be thankful for. 

God has been very good to us in the past year, and we have faith that He will continue to be very good to us in the future, although we don’t know where He is leading our future to.  All we can do is be open and available for whatever He presents to us and be rest assured that all things are moving us forward to a greater good.  We have asked for certain things, and He knows what we want, but the hardest part is letting Him do his part without trying to push and pressure.  We want things to happen NOW, but if we want all the good He has promised us, we must wait for them to happen when He judges them to be best.  This type of growth will continue in 2011, and we will continue to study, pray and grow in our faith in His wisdom.

Other growth will be our businesses.  Scott has something like 13 comic book shows he wants to do this next year, and we are researching ways for people to be able to pay for their purchases with credit cards.  This will allow the sales to grow.  Also, Sandy and I are looking to do at least one fiber fair this year, which means we have a lot of work ahead of us in order to create enough inventory for these shows AND for our on-line store.  The Fiber Binder Club is looking better than we had hoped and we see the membership growing and reaching the maximum number we are allowing.  The reason we are limiting the number of members is so we can provide the best fiber possible and get everything prepared and shipped out in a timely manner.  With just the two of us doing all of this, we need to keep things as manageable as possible.  That being said, January is ready to ship and we have started working on February’s package already.

I want to continue teaching the beginning weaving classes, but I also want to add in some natural dyeing classes, some tie-dyeing classes, and some intermediate weaving classes into the mix.  A friend of mine (a top-rate spinning teacher) and I are discussing teaming up on classes where she teaches spinning for weaving, and I teach weaving with hand spun yarns.  That sounds like a fun class, doesn’t it?

So, our opportunities for growth are fantastic.  Sandy and I, and Scott and I have so many plans and ideas in the works, that finding the time to do them all well will be the hardest part.

Now for the shrinkage part.  Let’s start with us, physically.  Where we want to grow spiritually, we want to shrink physically.  Scott has come up with a plan that he will walk 30 minutes every day that I don’t eat sugar.  Also, together, we are going to lose 100 pounds in 2011 – 65 pounds for him and 35 pounds for me.  What are we going to do to accomplish this goal?  Well, the 10,000 Step Club is getting revived and I am going to strive to walk that as a minimum each and every day – and I urge everyone to join me.    Let’s make this a national endeavor.  Get your friends to join you.  Start a walking club and get 10,000 Step club T-shirts for everyone and walk.  In 2011, I will discount all 10,000 Step Club T-shirts to $10 each (plus shipping) for the entire year.  If you order 10 or more of them, I will give you free shipping.  T-shirts can either be in black or white.  I’ll tell you more about how to order them after the first of the year.

Also, I ordered a Wii console and the Wii Fit Plus package.  Walking on the treadmill is great and all, but it gets very boring.  With the Wii system, we want to begin adding other forms of exercise to our daily routines.  Colette, here at the office, and Sharon of In Stitches have spoken highly of the Wii programs, that Scott and I saved up our money and took the plunge.

Also, we have purchased new Food Diaries and new calorie counting books, and we are going to meticulously write down all we eat and the calories involved.  Eating out has become a thing of the past already, and you know, we really don’t miss it.  What I cook at home is much tastier and way more satisfying than restaurant food.  That’s a win-win-win right there.  More manageable calories, better food, and a better budget line for food.

Another shrinkage area is our material belongings.  We have gotten rid of a lot of things that we no longer need or use, and we will be getting rid of more.  Goals for this year include cleaning out the barn and attic.  Much will get sold in a couple of garage sales this year, some will go to auction, some to eBay and Craig’s List and the rest to Freecycle and Goodwill.  The goal is to have the barn completely cleaned out so Sandy and I can use it to clean fleeces and do larger dyeing sessions.  The attic is earmarked to become added to Scott’s studio space giving him a better area for doing his water colors and acrylic paintings.

And, last but definitely not least, we will be shrinking the amount of debt we have.  It’s not much compared to the majority of people we know, but we don’t need it and we feel it is hampering our growth.  Time to get rid of that stone from around our necks and free us to do more and be better people.

No “New Year’s Resolutions,” but a continuation of what we’ve already started.  We are just recommitting ourselves to working toward better, freer and more peaceful lives.  We actually started most of these goals this past year.  Some are getting the encouragement needed to boost the willpower, some are just putting ourselves back into the harness, others are getting some downward slope to make the journey easier and faster.

So, have you looked ahead to your future?  What does it hold for you?  What are your goals for this next year – and next decade?

Dec 29

Leigh posted a Review of 2010 on her blog today, and asked us what our 2010 was like.  Good question.  I remember lots of neat things happening, but I did not realize how packed and busy the year had been until I started to look back over it.  2010 has been a very good year for all of us here. 

Following is a summary of our 2010, month-by-month. 

January – We finished remodeling the laundry room and Scott’s bedroom, the last of the remodeling projects for a whole year.  I had both my washer (23+ years old) and dryer repaired and no longer had to make trips to the laundromat.   I learned how to wash fleeces and washed the first of many in preparation for sending them off for processing. I started another diet (more on this later), and started the 10,000 Step Club (which I am reviving in a big way in 2011, so keep an eye out for this).  I knitted socks, I spun yarn, I went to a spinning retreat, and Scott and I started designing our own T-shirts images.

February – More T-shirt designs, more days of 10,000 or more steps, lots of snow and drifting and cold weather.  I got sick (twice).  I knitted more socks.  I washed more fleeces.  A picture I took of the snow plastered up the sides of my three pines in the front of our house was chosen by Sandra Rude for a handwoven tapestry (which I now own and am thrilled with).  I produced and published my 16th and last issue of SWIFT News, ending a 4 year run as editor of that publication.

March – I lost my first 10 pounds of the year. At the SWIFT Annual Meeting, it was voted to no longer produce newsletters and to move everything onto the web to a site that I would manage.  Scott and I went to see 101 Dalmatians at Clowes Hall. Sandy and I received the first of the fleeces back from processing (Ukulele) and were duly impressed.  I got to set up Susan’s walnut Baby Wolf.  I taught a beginning weaving class at Susan’s shop. The weather turned from lots of snow to lots of water as most of Indiana suffered through flash flooding.  Sandy and I sent five more fleeces off for processing.  Spring finally arrived and my threads and thrums were put out for the birds to use as nest building materials (and they loved them).  Celia Quinn came and taught us all about silk and we spun, reeled, dyed and did silk fusion and had all manners of fun.

April – Sandy and I finally got tickets to the Legends area for a Pacers game (Thank you Darrell!) and the Final Four came to Indianapolis (Yeah Butler Bulldogs!!).  Spring arrived in earnest and we all reveled in the flowers, the warmth and the sunshine.  I managed to get a lot of spinning in.  I worked with my LYS at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana, and we had a fun and profitable day.  I found the Greensleeves Spindle I wanted, but refrained from buying it.  I struggled with the whole weight loss plan.  I began mowing the grass for the season and wished I had sheep.  I got energized and trim trees, shrubs and bushes.  I spring cleaned on the house and got rid of all the clothes that I could no longer wear so I didn’t have any excuse to gain weight.  Scott and I continued working on T-shirt designs.

May – Scott and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and took time off from working on the property and house to tour areas of Indianapolis not yet seen before.  My little brother and I played the game of “Remember When” on his 44th birthday and we relived many happy memories of our grandparents.  I set up my sewing area, which quickly turned into a dyeing area as Sandy and I started what would eventually become a side business for us.  We still reveled in the spring flowers in our area and the weather remained perfect.  I painted my first ceramic plate.  Sandy and I received all our fleeces back from processing and loved them very much.  Then we put out a call for test spinners and began the fun that came from that.  I got to spin quite a bit and loved that as well.  Sandy and I started the 28-day, cold alum soaking of sock yarn in preparation for naturally dyeing it.  I was asked by Handwoven Magazine to be the Roving Reporter for SWIFT.

June – I taught a split weaving class (part early in the month and the rest later).  I started the BasicallyBenita shop.  Sandy and I dove into the fun and art of tie dyeing and found that we loved doing it.  I went to a future weaving student’s house and helped her get her loom all ready to weave on.  Sandy and I started receiving information sheets (and yarn in some cases) from our test spinners, and were thrilled by the results.  We talked more about starting our own store and business together.  I knitted socks and reveled in lots of naturally-dyed Shetland yarn that I had done over the years. 

July – All the way from Australia, Lulu Naughty Lamb arrived to visit and we spent a fun weekend with her visiting the Children’s Museum and showing her life in Indianapolis.  Lulu got to meet Garfield, too.  More spinning test results arrived.  Sandy and I started selling Tie-Dye shirts in earnest and we talked even more about starting our own store together.  I taught someone how to weave and she took to it like it was what she was meant to do in life.  I got to spin some, which I really enjoyed.

August – I finally finished knitting on some lace socks that took 6 months to knit because I am not a lace knitter, really.  Scott and I are invited to speak at a conference held by the Department of Comparative Literature at Purdue University.  Sandy and I put together the brand-new SWIFT information board in time for the Indiana State Fair.  Sandy and I took a trip to southern Indiana and came back with 15 bags of fleeces (about 40 fleeces total).  Sandy and I purchased three of the coolest drying racks to dry fleeces and yarn on.  The Indiana State Fair arrived and I spent three days there demonstrating spinning to those who were interested in learning more about it.  I was invited to become the judge for the weaving portion of Sheep to Shawl at next year’s Indiana State Fair and I got to sit in on this year’s judging to see what I needed to do.  I warped my table top loom and began weaving a scarf for Scott.  I knitted on some socks.  I hit the jackpot while doing genealogy research.  I was invited to go to SOAR.  A weaving student sent me lovely pictures of her first completed projects.

September – The last of the spinning test sample information sheets arrived and Sandy and I concluded what had been a great learning experience for us.  Scott and I were part of a 6-person panel at Graphic Engagement at Purdue University and spent a couple of hours talking about comics, webcomics and answering questions from the audience.  It was an honor to be a part of this and we hope to be part of more events like this in the future.  Also that weekend we attended a comic book show in Lafayette.  Sandy and I drove up to Wisconsin to go to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.  We are still talking about this trip and can’t wait to go back.  I finished more socks, got to spin some.  On the way back, Sandy and I stopped and took pictures and a video of the wind turbines in northwestern Indiana and met the neatest couple from Chicago stopping to do the same thing.  I finished weaving Scott’s scarf and he loved it.  I spoke about natural dyes to the Indianapolis Knitting Guild.  A friend and I walked the Noblesville Historic Homes Tour and I got to fulfill a dream of getting to ring a church bell.  Story Studios celebrated its 5th anniversary.  As my gift to Scott, I had A Spinner Weaver, Annie McHale, weave two Johnny Saturn guitar straps for Scott.    Sandy and I filled an order for 22 tie-dye shirts for our LYS.  Abby Franquemont came to teach us how to spin better on drop spindles.  I took the first of the Year of Season’s pictures and invited others to join me in this year-long journal of the seasons in their area.

October – Sandy and I visited a friend’s farm in southern Indiana and ordered some lovely kid mohair for a new endeavor we wanted to do called The Fiber Binder Club.  Feelers out about the club told us that people were definitely interested in this club, so we started looking for the best fibers and fleeces we can get.  Due to a fire ban in most of Indiana, and especially in our county, Dye Day was altered into a Spin-In.  It was a disappointment, but we could not take the chance of burning down half the county.  There had been no rain in our area in over two three months and everything was very dry.  Scott and I were asked to design and produce T-shirts for a team for a walk to cure juvenile diabetes.  We were given only a week to get it all done, and we made the deadline with a day to spare.  Also, Scott and I continued to design fiber humor T-shirts and another one debuted.  It rained briefly for the first time since July.  Sandy and I spent a day skirting many fleeces from the 15 bags we bought in August.  I continued taking pictures each week for the Year of Seasons.  I knitted on more socks, Sandy and I debuted tie-dyed draw-string backpacks.  I went to SOAR and had a grand time working as an assistant for Judith McKenzie.  Sandy and I got a Patrick Green Big Batt carder.  We geared up to start our own store together.  I started washing lots of fleeces.

November – I talked about SOAR – lots!  The office I work in started to get a face-lift, which it sorely needed.  I started studying Doubleweave and filled my brain with lots of new and exciting information.  Sandy and I bought the Reserve Champion Fleece from the Indiana State Fair for the Fiber Binder Club.  I tried new foods.  Sandy and I experimented with the drum carder and I spun and knitted up samples from what we produced to see how well we did.  Continued taking weekly pictures for the Year of Seasons.  I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, taught my 9-year-old niece how to knit and answered many questions about spinning and where clothes come from from my 6-year-old niece.  I continued washing lots of fleeces and cleaning them afterwards to make them as nice as possible.  Scott and I worked on setting up Sandy’s and my store, Scott drew the logo and Sandy and I named her Dye-Anna.  Things started to really move forward quickly.  Sandy, her mom and I spent a day working with the drum carder and ended up with eight 4-ounce batts in lovely colors.  It  began to feel like winter.

December – Sandy and I started the month with lots of dyeing – everything from yarns to T-shirts to socks to tote bags and backpacks to silk scarves.  Our on-line store, Dyed in the Wool, went live and we started selling things from it.  We got our first snow of the season.  We got the Fiber Binder Club ready to begin.  We submitted an ad to Ravelry and it was accepted (it starts January 1st).  Sandy and I sold out the tie-dyed socks the first day we showed them to people.  Snow came to Indiana to stay for a while.  Sandy and I added lots of new items to our store.  Scott and I took a friend to a wonderful Christmas concert by David Ackerman.  Scott and I worked out a deal for 2011 on what we want to accomplish (I’ll tell you on January 1st).  Sandy and I prepped everything for January’s Fiber Binder Club shipments.  Our office remodel was finally done and it looks great.

Needless to say, 2011 is looking to be as busy, if not more so, than 2010 was, and I am looking forward to it very much.

Leigh is right, looking back is interesting, and I am very curious to hear your own summary of your past year.

Dec 28

Last night I sent a couple of hours winding more naturally dyed Shetland yarn from skeins into center-pull balls and I now have only about 50 more to do.  I should get through most of them this evening.

Aren’t the colors wonderful?  Getting them ready to do something with has really inspired me to actually do something with them, and I know what that something is.  Some of the balls are too small for this project, but I have another project in mind for them.  Gee, if I’m a good, hard worker this weekend, do you think I can get three looms warped?

Sandy brought in some batts that she carded up over the weekend for the store and they are now uploaded and ready for sale.

Isn’t this lucious?  We called it Plum Pudding and it’s 100% Polworth  It spins so easily.  So far, there are three of these 4 ounce batts available and I think we’ll have at least two if not three more of them up soon.

And, thanks for all the color requests in your comments on yesterday’s post.  There are some great suggestions in there and I’ll be getting out my natural-dyed sample books from over the past several years and seeing how many of them I can create.  You have given me some thinking to do and an excuse to play and experiment even more.

Dec 27

And how was your Christmas?  Mine was relaxed, productive and way too short.

We went down to Scott’s folks on Christmas day, ate some good food, visited with even better people, and that evening I finished one sock and started its mate.  This is a Christmas gift for a friend of mine, but since I won’t get to see her again until next week, technically I’m not late.

I spent many hours this past weekend winding skeins of naturally-dyed Shetland, fingering-weight yarn into center-pull balls.  I have several weaving projects lined up for most of them and this will make it much easier to get the warp for one of them set up and wind bobbins for the rest.  Next weekend I plan to spend one day warping up two looms, one for the doubleweave workshop and one to use some of the Shetland.

Also, as I went through the Shetland yarn, I sat aside some of the more boring colors to overdye in this next weekend’s indigo vat.  Why deal with tans, pale yellows and boring beigey-pinks when you can get some delightful colors by overdyeing them.

Actually, as I was winding them, I thought how much fun a tapestry artist would have working with them.  All the same yarn, but hundreds of colors.  Too bad I’m not a tapestry artist, although I may take the left overs and see what I can make with them.  I’ve woven small, practice tapestries, but not anything special.  It might be a great way to showcase my naturally-dyed yarns.

Another thing I worked on was going through all my yarn and fiber to see what I have to dye already on hand.  I have some wonderful 50% wool/50% silk worsted-weight yarn, some merino yarn, some mercerized cotton yarn, other types of wool yarns, some silk boucle yarn, some more silk noil yarn, and lots and LOTS of fiber of about every type you can imagine.  And, Sandy and I have some lovely Alpaca/Silk yarn arriving this week to dye up as well.  We’ve been buying for quite a while in hopes of getting our store started, and now it’s time to put these to work.

So, what colors do you all like best?  Let me know (pinks and purples seem to be very popular) and I’ll get the pots ready for them.

Dec 24

We have gotten quite a bit of snow for our area in December.  In fact, last year we barely had flurries here, if memory serves me correctly.  Hmmm…  I may need to look into that to see if I’m right.  All I know is that the budget numbers for snow removal for the office buildings owned by the company I work for are blown out of the water for the month of December.

And, we’ve gotten this snow an inch or so here and an inch or so there.  It’s like it is sneaking up on us, faking us out into believing that we haven’t gotten much.  Luckily, it actually got up into the middle 30’s a couple of time this week, so some of it has melted.  The forcast for these parts for today through tomorrow night is a better than 50% chance of snow.  Lord, be with all those who are traveling in the mess the snow makes on the roads.

Today is a holiday day for me, and besides a trip to the post office and the grocery store, I’m going to clean on the house.  It needs it and I’ll feel much better for having it done.

If I don’t hear from any of you before tomorrow, have a very Merry Christmas and may your stockings be full of gold coins instead of coal.  And if not gold ones, at least chocolate ones.  🙂

Dec 23

Every year, just before Christmas, local tenor, David Ackerman, has a Christmas concert and every year we go.

David’s voice has never been better or stronger, and that’s saying something.  This year, Scott and I invited a friend of ours to go with us, and I got to see and hear David for the first time through her eyes.  When David finished “What Child is This?” where he sang ALL the verses, not just the one we usually hear, my friend’s hands were clasped on her chest and her eyes were a glittery.  Then, she leaned over and whispered, “Thank you for inviting me.  This is just what I needed.” 

Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

This is from a couple of year’s ago when he and local singer, John Stinchcomb, sang this duet together.  I always stop what I am doing and just listen when I hear this song.

Both David and John have been best friends of Scott’s and mine since college.  We don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we’d like, any more, but when we do, there are always hugs and laughter.

I’ll get this week’s Year of Seasons picture taken today and posted tomorrow for you.  Until then, drive carefully, finish up your shopping, and enjoy the real meaning of this Christmas season.

Dec 21

In my continuing effort of getting a viable and interesting store set up, the next thing on my list was to get labels made and put onto the ready stock.  Last night, I finished all of the balled yarns (sock, handspun and other).

I am rather proud of how they turned out.  Still to do:  All the Tie-Dyed items, silk scarves, spinning batts and roving.

We are supposed to get up to 3 more inches of snow today, then it is supposed to change over to freezing rain and sleet.  Yuk!  I’m praying that it stays snow.  Have a wonderful day!!!

Dec 19

There are several items I have received over the past few months that I never got around to showing you.  One, I got back in May, and another I just received a couple of days ago.  Let’s start with the oldest.

I love Greensleeves spindles.  Back in April, I helped my LYS set up at the Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana, and part of what we did was unload and tag a new shipment of spindles from Greensleeves.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, one of them caught my fancy over all of the other nice spindles.  But I put it out for sale and said that if it sold then it wasn’t meant to belong to me.  It didn’t sell, and I didn’t hide it, either.  When Scott’s and my anniversary came around in May, I asked him for it for my anniversary gift.

Isn’t it a beauty?  And it spins very nicely for quite a long time before needing another spin.

Then, back in February, I took this picture:

and Sandra Rude asked if she could use it to make a jacquard tapestry from it.  Here she is weaving it, and here it is done.  Well, I loved that my photo, taken on a cold and snowy day in February, was woven into a cloth painting.

And here it is hanging on the wall in my house.  Thank you, Sandra for weaving this.  I am so thrilled at being the owner of this work of art.  I’m going to somehow attach the original photo to the bar behind the tapestry so people can see them both together.

Then, the wonderfully talented David T. Daniels wove and made a sweet little bag, and, now…

I got it for Christmas from Scott.  Scott had asked what I wanted for Christmas and I showed him several items on Dave’s site, and this is what he picked.  That’s the drop spindle shown above that is in the special pocket.  This is going to be my go-to spindle bag.  Thank you Dave!!!  And thank you Scott!!!

I am a very lucky lady.

Dec 18

I’ve been busy all day today getting pictures of more items to put up in the Dyed in the Wool store.  I uploaded 16 new items, and I feel that, finally, the amount of inventory is building up nicely. 

That’s the hardest thing about creating your own product – building inventory, that is.  Everything must be handled multiple times from folding, tying, dyeing, washing out and pressing the Tie-Dyed items, to winding off, dyeing, washing, rinsing and rewinding all the yarns, to measuring, carding and remeasureing the batts, to…  Well, you get the idea.  I wish there was an army of us working on these things, but it is only Sandy and I.  It really is a second, full-time job doing this, and my house sure looks like it.  In fact, I need to clean up the dyeing area just to mess it up again.  And we won’t even mention the rest of the house.  I wonder if you can spin dust bunnies…

So, here are some of the items I uploaded today, but I’m not going to show all of them to you because I want you to go and look at all of them on the shop site.

There are draw-string backpacks,

and lovely scarves,

and more T-shirts,

and more sock yarns,

and tote bags,

and more yarns for knitting or weaving.

There are even more coming as soon as I can get them wound, pressed or whatever still needs to be done, their pictures taken, and the time to upload them. 

And all of the silk and wool items that have been added this week have been naturally dyed, so these are not items you can get just anywhere.  In fact, I’ll bet there are very few places out there selling naturally dyed items because of the time it takes to produce them.  But, I love the colors you get from natural dyes.  They are very complex, they go with any other naturally dyed colors (try it – put hot pink from cochineal with bright orange from yellow onion skins next to each other and they do not clash!) and the colors have a gentleness that is much easier on the eyes than synthetic dyes.  Not everything we will do will be naturally dyed, but more and more of the protein fibers will be until only the tie-dyed items will be with synthetic dyes – and maybe some painted warps down the line.

« Previous Entries